Cause Of Death

I read the first page of the autopsy report and was not at all surprised. However, I asked questions out loud to no one in particular or perhaps to my imagined medical examiner.

“So let me get this straight. You mean to tell me my father didn’t mean to kill himself? It was an accident? So had he taken a shot that wasn’t as potent, he may still be alive to continue to play chicken with his life?”

“So by accident, you mean no one murdered him? Are you insinuating that he held the needle himself? What about his supplier? He or she isn’t to blame? No? Maybe you’re right. He was an adult after all. He was old enough to make conscious decisions about the use of illegal drugs. And if you’re making a final decision using that logic, why not rule it a suicide? What parameters do you need to be met in order to classify it as a suicide? A good-bye note? Written to whom? He was homeless.”

“I mean, think about it, could it not be considered suicide if he was intentionally shooting up heroine? That’s like drinking a cup of full proof Clorox, not surviving it and saying it’s an accident because no one left a note. My father just liked the taste of bleach. He was an addict. He walked the road of a slow suicide. What case do you know of where a heroin addict, who fought rehab, didn’t end in death? Do you really list them all as accidents?”

Whatever his reasons were for using, his addiction led to his death. I guess for legal purposes his death had to be labeled an accident. It wasn’t murder. Case closed.


The Report:

It stated that my father was a man who was well-developed and overweight with missing teeth. He had none. For his age off 55 years old, at the time of death, he was normal.

It said he had a tattoo on his neck. Really? What kind of tattoo I wondered. I read the description a few times making sure that perhaps they were not referencing the one on his lower right arm. The one that said Jane. The medical examiner wasn’t referencing that one. They made note of one I never knew he had.

The examiner used the phrase “grossly unremarkable” a few times. At first I was offended wanting to pick up the phone and ask the examiner why he or she felt the need to disrespect my father. As if they have never seen any other corpse in worst condition. However, Google saved me from what could have been a mortifying moment. The phrase simply means that by observation of organs and body by means of eyes or hands, you noted nothing out of the ordinary. Most of his examination was “grossly unremarkable” except for his heart. This makes sense since his book bag had nine bottles of prescribed medication for a plethora of heart conditions.

Part of me was hoping that the cause of death would have been “heart break” and manner of death listed as “years of neglect”, “from missing his children”, or “from losing the love of his life”.

I don’t know. I’m the hopeless fatherless daughter that wanted someone to say he died because he missed his children. I always believe that, if he or if we made an attempt, a full genuine attempt to heal that history, he might have had the power to walk away from the heroin. But then again, heroin is that one poison that made him feel things when nothing else in this world could have. I’ve once heard a man compare it to the best blow job he’s ever had. How can I, or my brothers and sister, compete with a blow job?


Final Findings:

  • Infarct of left Kidney
  • Congenital Heart defect-repaired
  • Atherosclerotic and hypertensive cardiovascular disease
  • Isolated thrombus of right middle lobe of lung
  • Abrasions and contusions and lacerations of scalp

The toxicology report found morphine in both his blood and urine.  The cause of death was an acute intoxication of heroin, hence the reason why everything was “grossly unremarkable”. Your eyes and hands weren’t going to find heroin sitting on his organs screaming “dude, I did it. Arrest me.”


 It blows my mind. How his body was found outside of the bodega on the block we can safely label as his stomping grounds. He sat slumped over unresponsive on a stoop that caught him nodding quite a few times. The same stoop where he allowed his lips to tell the streets that his kids were “unos cabrones” for not taking care of him in his last days.

I’d like the streets to know that he was the parent. He walked away. He made almost no attempt to be with us. At least that was how the story was painted for me for many years. And upon his death-bed, I was the first one the streets called to claim him. I claimed him when he never once claimed me.

© 2014 – 2016, Lopez. All rights reserved.

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